Today’s Impressive Achievement In Unethical Corporate Virtue-Signaling And Grandstanding Goes To…LEGO!

This guy allegedly cracked the plastic head of the LeBron James figure (inset)

Can en entire company be a giant asshole?

LEGO shows us that one can, and is.

The Toybook trade magazine sent an email on behalf of the Danish toy construction block company stating that,

“In light of recent events, LEGO has requested the below products to be removed from sites and any marketing ASAP.”

Toybook added later,”We requested that our affiliate partners refrain from posting promotional LEGO content as part of our decision to respect #BlackOutTuesday and pause posting content on our social media channels in response to the tragic events in the US. We regret any misunderstanding and will ensure that we are clearer about our intentions in the future.”

All of the items are still available for purchase, but promotions for the products,  more than 30 of them were halted. All such products involved police figures or had “Police” in the name, including the Police Station, Police Patrol Car, Police Helicopter Transport, and even —this is really impressive—the “Donut Shop Opening,”which, “includes Police Officer ‘Duke DeTain’ and ‘Crook’ minifigures.”

Oh, I almost forgot: “The White House” set was also pulled.

As with the day’s first post, this stunt is in the res ipsa loqutur category. It speaks for itself, and what it says is, “We are an opportunistic, craven, ethics-free company that will exploit any opportunity to pile on to an emotional outpouring of vilification and hatred against dedicated public servants who don’t deserve to be so-treated.”

Don’t worry, there’s no “misunderstanding” or need to be “clearer about your intentions.” All is perfectly clear.

Americans will eagerly await LEGO’s colorful rioter, BLM protester, Don Lemon, Chros Cuomo and “Mad Dog Mattis” figures, and such fun products as its “Antifa Headquarters” play set.

Any family of police officers, any family that has ever looked to the police for help, any American family with two barely active brain cells to rub together, who ever allows a LEGO product to enter its home or to be handled by it children, or who permits a LEGO movie to be viewed in its dwelling, possesses neither backbone nor principles.

I sincerely hope that the only visitors LEGOLAND theme parks receive from now on are enthusastic arsonists, looters and rioters.

That should be entertaining to watch.

41 thoughts on “Today’s Impressive Achievement In Unethical Corporate Virtue-Signaling And Grandstanding Goes To…LEGO!

    • You’ll be happy to know Best Buy notified me of my racism yesterday, and I too unsubscribed. I also canceled my Best Buy credit card, since I’d rather buy future appliances off the back of a truck in an alley.

      • From the CEO of Best Buy:

        “We are, I believe, in one of the toughest times in our country’s history, as we continue to battle a deadly pandemic and the resulting economic havoc while, once again, coming face-to-face with the long-term effects of racial injustice. Watching tens of thousands take to the streets to speak out against fear and inhumanity is, on one hand, inspiring for the commitment it represents and, on the other, heartbreaking for its profound need.

        “But what’s next? What do we do to change the cycle in which black men or women, with tragic frequency, are harmed by those who are supposed to protect them? Or the gut-wrenching truth that to be a person of color in America is often to not feel fully safe, seen or heard?”….

    • Seriously? I almost wish I hadn’t unsubscribed a long time ago due to oversaturation of promotional junk email, just so I could tell them to go pound sand and unsubscribe now.

    • So if I’m on a dating app (I’m not) and I’m looking for a white, Christian, conservative, heterosexual male (I’m not), that app is going to send me profiles like Mohammed’s; he who is looking for wife #5 and expects a conversion to Islam.

      And I’m paying for this app?

      • Only Mohammed is allowed wife #5. Other Muslim men may only have 4 wives (Koran 4:3) as long as they can treat them all equally. In chapter 33, verse 50 of the Koran, Mohammed said that Allah told him that Mohammed (and only Mohammed) can have as many wives as he wanted and he didn’t have to treat them all equally.

        • Meh. A bottle of sauvignon blanc and a pedicure and I’m happy. Besides, I’ll never wake him at 3 a.m. to ask him what he’s thinking.

    • Can’t people just look at the profile pictures if they really care? On the other hand, my first reaction to your post was that such a clumsy move may upset black people and other minorities, because if they prefer partners with a similar background they would now have to scroll through all of the white people in order to find people they’re comfortable with.

  1. I tend to think this is a necessary step, given how brain dead “smart apps” are. Consider a mother who once bought her son Lego’s once.

    – She bought them in April for her son’s birthday. Everywhere she looks for the next two months are Lego ad’s.

    – Now consider that she looks up protests against the police. Now she sees police-themed Lego set ads everywhere. That seems to be in pretty poor taste.

    The only way to prevent this holy hell fire is to nuke the ad campaigns – purge them from the servers so that Lego police toys don’t accidentally show up as ads in articles about the anti-police demonstrations.

    It would certainly cravenly and cowardly if it pulled its police themed set, but suspending the online ad campaigns so that algorithms don’t do the stupid things that algorithms are know to do is the only tenable option.

  2. Jack,

    “ Any family of police officers, any family that has ever looked to the police for help, any American family with two barely active brain cells to rub together, who ever allows a LEGO product to enter its home or to be handled by it children, or who permits a LEGO movie to be viewed in its dwelling, possesses neither backbone nor principles.”

    I hear you saying that in Joe Biden’s voice and ending with “And you ain’t black!”

    • Boy, is THAT a terrible analogy, and in about ten ways.

      I’ll be kind and pretend you didn’t send something so silly, and since I’m in a res ipsa loquitur mood today, I won’t bother to explain such basics like why voting for a President isn’t the same as paying money to a product that insults one’s occupation and colleagues, and so on.

      Too easy.

      • No, Jack. It means for someone who isn’t a police officer, you seem to have a lot of opinions about how police officers and their relatives can spend their money. Not every issue is black and white. It’s possible to support LEGO toys without caring for their politics, the same way that I hate Tom Cruise but (have previously) enjoy(ed) his movies. You’ve drawn a line in the sand for other people you have no authority to speak for or to.

        • No, Neil, when a company declares war on your family, friends, values and colleagues, you either endorse the position or reject it. What was wrong and stupid about the Biden calim is the presumption that blacks necessarily agree that Democratic policies are in their best interests. Reasonable arguments can be made to the contrary. Now make the argument that holds that a company symbolically treating you, your family, your colleagues and your profession as a blight on society should still be supported. There is no such argument, and the “How do you know what a police family thinks?” is petty close to the bottom of the barrel in analysis.

          As before, I observe that you pick the weirdest hills to die on, and you are dying on this one.

          • Stop saying that! Having an opinion is not “dying on a hill.” I don’t waste time with more substantive arguments because you constantly treat my comments like a flies in your soup.

            I have maintained a readership of your work longer and more vociferously than most here (I even paid respects to your father at Arlington), despite your constant disparagement.

            You, meanwhile, don’t return my letters, my phone calls, you won’t accept my apologies, and you keep promising an email that never gets sent.

            • Wow, if you call that disparagement, you’ve never come close to my genuine disparagement. You’re still on my call back list.

              Meanwhile, I’ll try to figure out how cavils about trivial disagreements rather then significant issues advance anyone’s interest. Don’t tell me—I bet I can come up with the answer, if there is one.

              • Almost forgot: yes, making stands over weak positions is, in fact, metaphorically dying on a hill, and this is a perfect example. You gain credibility and respect by making substantive points on significant matters. Making strained points for no good reason just undermines your heft as a commentator. It’s a bad trade.

                • Addendum: you’re obviously capable of trenchant observations and perceptive commentary. We’ve seen it many times. “How do you know police officers aren’t going to be eager to buy LEGOS when the company has made the ridiculous decree that it will hide its police figures in shame?” is not such an observation.

  3. The culmination of this week’s academic virtue signalling – but there’s still another day to go. Don’t know why anyone would think that this is condescending to all parties involved:

    Subj: Today – Demonstrating Care for Black Employees This Week and Beyond

    Good Morning Colleagues,
    I just received notice of this event and wanted to share. It may be particularly helpful to those of us who are White and seeking information for how to ally (a verb).
    The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is available to support, encourage or listen to any community members with needs at this time, please do not hesitate to reach out…

    • Frankly, if you want to put an end to the riots, I suggest dumping Lego blocks all over the parade routes. Stepping on those blocks will do wonders to the soles of rioters’ feet.

      jvb

  4. I for one appreciate the drive-by shooting of Mad Dog. Is he trying to retire the General Douglas McArthur Annoy a President Award or what?

    • Mattis to me can no longer claim the mantle of US Marine. I will never refer to him as a General. Using false data and calling Trump and his supporters Nazis is an act of dishonor. He can state he disagrees with using active military to quell domestic violence but to stoop to the Nazi label is Bullshit. I can argue using National Guard troops in his overseas generational expeditions shows his inability to ever win a conflict. He may have been loved and respected but he is no Patton and he is simply trying to keep getting invited to the events of the Glitteratti.

      • I was going to mention this in today potpourri, but ran out of space. This is the downside of appointing generals. Mattis is entirely out of line, and going after the Commander in Chief during any kind of crisis is despicable.

      • Mattis is loved and respected because he criticized Trump. If he had said, “While I disagree with the use of the military, the President is within his legal authority to put an end to insurrection by using any means available to him, including the National Guard and the military” the media either would have ignored it or pummeled him for the fascist they think he is. The media can’t give Trump credit for anything.

        Let’s take a look at what happened over the last 9 days. Marches, protests and demonstrations devolved into anarchy and chaos, looting and property destruction. On Monday, Trump said he would help if asked. Nothing. Cities exploded. Tuesday, Trump said, “if you don’t put an end to it, I will.” Tuesday afternoon, most cities under insurrection imposed a curfew, and called out for massive law enforcement presence. Most cities were calmer than they were over last weekend, mostly because the administrations in those municipalities did not want to give Trump the PR credit for stopping mayhem.

        New York City, for whatever reason, decided an 11:00 pm curfew would be sufficient. Well, NYC experienced the most amazing looting, theft, and property destruction it has seen in decades, live on national television (to CNN’s great ratings boost). Wednesday morning, Gov. Cuomo declared that Mayor Di Blasio is solely to blame and is incapable of gaining control of the city, and issued an ultimatum: “fix it or prepared to be absorbed.” Di Blasio, not wanting to give Trump the political imagery that Democrat-run municipalities cannot handle anything, lowered the curfew to 8:00 pm and called out for “all hands on deck.” What happened in NYC on Wednesday night? Relative calm (much to the disappointment of the idiots at CNN, which meant they had to deal with Mattis and not the Rosenstein congressional testimony).

        jvb

  5. Good thing I stopped buying Lego when they prohibited non-minor accompanied adults from their LegoLand locations. These guys are really pushing for the “get woke, go broke” award.

    • It’s a damn shame that LEGO pulled this PR stunt. Does LEGO not remember that the police station sets in the City Line of sets saved that company from insolvency because they are very popular with everyone? Who made that decision for LEGO and why are they still employed there? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

      jvb

      • This wasn’t a PR stunt, this was PR crisis management, albeit handled badly. They did not want Lego toys appearing in online ads next to news about the anti-police demonstrations. Lego sent an email to retailers asking them to pull online ads about the products – Some then grandstanded on their own in publicizing the email.

        Say a mother bought a Lego set online in May. She then looks up the protests against the police in June. The wonderful algorithms would show her content related to “Lego” and “Police”. (I’ve seen stupider targeted ads before – Yahoo! once tried to get me to donate my non-existent child’s umbilical cord blood….).

        As much as I love police and fire themed Lego’s (I buy them for the food bank every Christmas), it would be in poor taste allow such ads, and the algorithms cannot be trusted to avoid such combinations.

    • Now do me a favor and explain to Neil why a police officer permanently rejecting a company that scapegoats the police profession is nothing like Joe Biden saying “you’re not black if you don’t vote Democratic.” Or not…it shouldn’t require an explanation.

  6. I’m going to have to call you out on this one. The Lego Group is a company (though admittedly a private one). To survive in the economy, just like any other company, they do what gets people to give them money. I’m not a fan of the status quo either.

    Be that as it may, I see nothing wrong with what they did here. They didn’t remove anything for sale.
    They removed things from their advertisements, because they didn’t want to evoke negative feelings in people, which could also damage their reputation. If people are wrong to be offended by advertisements featuring police toys, it’s not the obligation of The Lego Group to change how they feel. This is a cultural quagmire that a foreign toy company would drown in if it tried to make a meaningful statement.

    I get an impression of mixed messages when it comes to your opinions on when professional individuals and organizations should remain detached, and when they should deviate from business-as-usual to take a stand. Can you please clarify what principles you use to decide whether a company needs to act as a cultural leader, when they should stick to their own business, when the population should boycott something, and when it’s unethical to do so? Maybe there is a pattern here, but I haven’t been able to follow it.

    • You really think this is a close call? It is a deliberate evocation of the Streisand Principle. Nobody sane was going to get upset at LEGO for promoting police figures. The companies action suggested a level of hostility that doesn’t exist, and endorsed that hostility.

      When a company is forced to act to protect its business, I won’t criticize it. When it acts gratuitously and stupidly, as in this case, I will. The insult to police was completely unnecessary, and hurtful to police and their supporters. Other examples of gratuitous and harmful corporate grandstanding would be retailers refusing to sell guns, or stores pulling MAGA hats, or Starbucks presuming to lecture coffee buyers about white privilege.

      Virtue-signalling to specific groups is divisive, and is also not rational business. If a company wishes to express a true ethical principle and take the hit for it, that’s respectable. Pandering for profit is not. What we usually see, however, are fiascos like Cracker Barrel dropping “Duck Dynasty” then changing its mind once the finances came in. That means that its stand was bogus.

      In general, companies should be welcoming to all views and individuals, and there are seldom ethical reasons to do otherwise.

      LEGO didn’t have to make any statement at all, and the one it did make was insulting and culturally damaging to the nation where it does a lot of business. If LEGO stopped promoting black figures because it might offend some customers, I would take exactly the same position.

      • In that case, I suggest that LEGO was in ethics zugzwang, because they had reason to believe that continuing advertising as usual would be perceived as supporting or covering for police brutality. LEGO may not believe they have the option not to pick a side, and depending on how the sides define themselves, LEGO may be right.

        As Rich in CT has pointed out twice here, LEGO likely had no intention of making a statement for or against anything or anyone, but instead were merely attempting to avoid offending people. They didn’t stop selling anything; they just decided not to run ads that many people might consider in poor taste. (Many would argue that your comparison to the idea of stopping promotion of black figures does not apply, because being a police officer is a choice and a sustained action.)

        Police officers can be admirable and honorable people, but the public perception of the law enforcement system within which they work is becoming more negative because of various types of police misbehavior. LEGO decided not to take the risk of incurring cognitive dissonance, so they removed advertisements that depicted police officers with healthy, normal interactions. They didn’t want people to look at the ads and think they were asserting that police officers in the real world had healthy, normal interactions, because right now people are trying to draw attention to unhealthy problems with police interactions in the real world. The key mindsets LEGO is using are politics (organization mindset and empathy mindset) and reputation (strategy mindset and empathy mindset).

        (Empathy mindset is not quite the same concept as the ethical virtue of empathy. Empathy mindset is about individualizing interactions, usually to work with or affect people’s feelings.)

        Does that make more sense?

        • ” because they had reason to believe that continuing advertising as usual would be perceived as supporting or covering for police brutality.”

          Your argument is sound, but its application isn’t. They had no such reason, and you don’t impugn a whole profession with out a powerful one. CBS isn’t pulling Blue Bloods, which extols the police; Nobody will accuse it of supporting police brutality for keeping the popular show on the air. The same with NBC’s “Chicago Police,” and that show DOES sometimes rationalize police misconduct. If domestic high profile TV network products were not deemed to be risking pubic anger, why in the world would little plastic figures cause LEGO any problem? It was a panicky, tone deaf call made based on a misunderstanding of the culture here and their own business, and callous disregard for the message sent.

          I have no doubt that it hurt the company far more that just sitting out the controversy would, and should.

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